Having read Antony Oliver's article on maths for engineers (NCE 21 November), I totally agree with his comments. I was one of the many students in my university class, who struggled with maths and instead completed a two year technology course before my degree.
This course was more practical in its approach, including subjects such as applied mechanics and hydraulics, and this actually gave me an advantage over the former A level students in my university class. I found these practical subjects interesting because I could relate to the various problems and could see the benefit for future study such as structural analysis.
Moreover, during my years of education in school, college and university, I have found all maths teachers to be the type who have never worked in an industry and therefore cannot give examples of application.
There were many occasions during my degree course, when I asked my maths tutor for typical applications relating to the topic being studied and I was never given a satisfactory answer to assist my understanding of the subject.
My work organising engineering related school projects has taught me that the ability to communicate effectively and to work in a team with other professionals goes much further than the need to understand the finer points of differential equations. After all, it is these characteristics which normally determine the success of a civil engineering project.
Mark Kinvig (M), Liverpool, mark. kinvig@telco4u. net